Struggling with the “how”

This Saturday we had our first big meeting with the group of victims and displaced persons from La Ceja. The process of organizing this meeting was an incredibly frustrating learning experience but in the end, we had a good turn out.

Ice-breaker group-building game

The goal of the meeting was first and foremost to strengthen the sense of community of the group, to practice thinking and working together, and to start weekly home-groups. We had an icebreaker game, an hour of small-group to big-group Bible-study focused on the body of Christ, the call for such a body, and thinking about the relationship between faith and action. Organizing the weekly group did not work out in quite the way we were hoping, but a beginning was made.

Bible-study in small groups

Facilitation in Spanish- There are so many things I need to improve.

It is beyond obvious, and I know, that although I think of things like the recent Free Trade Agreement being signed and conscientious objection as deeply linked to the present realities of my friends in La Ceja, this is not necessarily the case with them. When looking at Isaiah 58’s comments on “true fasting” I was blown out of the water that when asked “How does this passage compare with the socio-political situation in Colombia and La Ceja today?” participants didn’t mention corrupt governance, corporate exploitation, or structural wealth inequality but rather named personal sin, a failure of generosity and charity as core issues.  The model for social change with almost all the partners I’m working with here is clearly Individual Change. That is, if individuals (and eventually all) in society could be converted to Christ and thereby instantly healed of their evil practices, we would have peace and/or justice. While I don’t totally disagree that this might be true, it is also not a model I am comfortable with or believe in. This is a struggle.

Sometimes I think about the work being done with the Sanctuary Peace Churches (ISP) and La Ceja group, especially it’s potential, and I’m very excited. What is absolutely true is that I have met some deeply loving, sacrificial, and beautiful people both in my visits/interviews of pastors for the ISP as well as on home visits in La Ceja. However, I am also having a personal struggle with submitting my natural desires of how and with whom to work with to the pattern and purpose of this current work.  With that in mind, I would like to share with you a poem I wrote today:

Occupy Wallstreet or Prayer Vigils

There are streets inside my veins

screaming to be protested on

blood cells, red like a sickle and hammer, like

the radical clamor I keep at bay

pray away

New York is ablaze in a way

Bi’lin understands

There are mohawks, suits, tattoos and

bongo drums that have started to taste like

the sweet and sour tang of Maybechangehistory

while I sit on a brown couch

calling pastors being called missionary.

I may go crazy.

I want my worship to be like David’s—

underwear-dancing down busy streets, ashes

sackcloth and banquets

I want my cry for peace to be loud, to proclaim

not just name, the new creation to make

Isaiah and MLK proud.

I throw my body forward, a butterfly

underwater, trying to push the impatient

activist out, reminding myself that

to rush ahead without

the base feels like freedom but ends up

waste

Though I still have my doubts…

I pound it into my mind, again and again:

This is where it begins, and it never

ends

slowly, we gather, sit in poorly lit rooms

learn and relearn, work around

the fact that you can’t read, and I fumble

speech but we are trying to

spring out of the ground

Our race is hobbled by a history of

bad theology, corrupted impunity and

the fact that the laundry must be hung,

bills paid, lives lived, that we are all

tragically and blessedly trapped

in our hum-drum humanity

But I want to see a stem stalk now

without the watering and waiting

without the land or the plow

My patience being forged in fires

of “not now”

Still, there are streets filled with screaming

inside of my limbs.

They refuse to shut up no

matter how much I run,

no matter how hard I swim.

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About Magelette

I use too many parentheticals, tend towards run-on sentences, and am a terrible self-editor. That being said I'm honest to a fault and fairly easily enchanted, so if you're into that, read on.
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6 Responses to Struggling with the “how”

  1. Kaitlin Heatwole says:

    good poem…

  2. Dylan Zehr says:

    Yeah, my comments are poem related… It’s awesome, but I think I’d split it into two or three poems, the first one ending with “ends.”

    It peters out a little bit, not so much word-choice wise, but thrust-of-poem wise. The message gets diluted…

    Dancing and banquets are an awesome, weird sort of rhyme that tightens everything up… Makes it feel more dense in imagery… A butterfly underwater is awesome…

  3. heikeqm says:

    Jessica,
    Your frustration is coming through loud and clear. It is frustration with reality and that most of us concentrate on our personal issues and the need to change “me”. Is it because we are afraid to acknowledge the bigger picture, the underlying cause and what it might mean to my life if I actually broke through the cocoon? I wish more people were like you, willing to rebel and scream and working with all your might to change the world. May patience win at the moment to help you get to know the Columbian people you are working with.

  4. Emma Stahl-Wert says:

    Jess, you are in your poem, your poem is in you. I can see the angry streets in your veins and want to run down them with you…and I remember long conversations around where does true change come from if not here inside with our community…I hear you girl. Keep shouting…and singing…and listening to the silent voices…

  5. Jojo says:

    LOVE the poem (the butterfly metaphor was brilliant)
    LOVE the pics – you are one badass mofo, lady! keep rocking!!!
    seriously, dude, you’re my hero and that’s all there is to it.

  6. Pingback: Betting on the Light

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